If you’re tired of struggling to get your steaks and your roasts cooked evenly on the inside and outside, sous vide is the way to go! This French cooking method involves sealing food in a vacuum-sealed bag and then cooking it in a water bath at a precise temperature over long periods of time. The result is evenly cooked food (inside and outside) that is packed with flavor. So, how do you cook sous vide?
Why should I try cooking sous vide cooking?
We all know that barbecue is a great way to cook up some delicious food, but what about when you’re cooking thick cuts of meats like brisket or tri-tip? It can be tricky getting those inside cooked just right. You see traditional grilling and smoking methods are typically designed for searing on the surface – usually leaving it rare or undercooked!
When you need to cook a large roast for many people, it can be difficult to ensure that the inside is cooked thoroughly before serving. To avoid undercooked or overcooked meats in your dinner party line-up (whom would want this?), there are cooking techniques which can help cook both outside and interior of meat more evenly – like using an indirect grilling method with higher end barbecues/smokers, but even these require special tools such as accurate thermometers if done correctly!
Imagine a world where you can cook your food perfectly, every time. No more undercooked or overcooked meal for this gamer GQ lover! The sous vide cooking method allows to evenly cook food from all sides, ensuring that your meat is cooked low and slow to perfection from start to finish. Which is particularly useful when cooking thick cuts of meat. This is something that cannot be achieved by any other cooking tools and something which makes sous vide such a one of a kind cooking tool.
And best of all, sous vide cooking is hands off (no need to spend hours standing by your grill) and very simple to use. All you need is a good quality sous vide precision cooker and a vacuum-sealed bag (which you can find at any kitchen store). Keep on reading to find out how what are the benefits of using a sous vide precision cooker.
Why don’t people use sous vide precision cooker more often?
There are a few reasons why people might not use sous vide precision cookers more often:
People do not have a sous vide precision cooker
most people do not own a sous vide precision cooker. Even though sous vide precision cookers and their accessories are relatively inexpensive, the cost of purchasing what is needed to try out sous vide cooking can be discouraging.
People do not really know about sous vide
Sous vide is a cooking technique that most people have never heard of, which makes them hesitant to try it out on their barbecues.
People do not know how to use it
Many people do not know that when cooking meat sous vide, an additional sear of the meat (finishing touch) on a cast iron pan or a grill (gas or coal) is essential in order to create a bark/crust on the surface of the meat. So, many people who get a sous vide precision cooker get disappointed by the result of their first experience with sous vide and give up on using it.
It is a slow cooking process
the cooking process can take longer than other methods (I tend to agree that to get the best out of your sous vide precision cooker, one must devote at least 6 hours and up to 48 hours) so it might not be ideal for busy cooks who are looking for a quick meal.
Why will you love cooking sous vide?
There are many benefits to cooking sous vide:
1 – Food cooked to perfection every time
Whether you are cooking a steak, chicken, fish, or vegetables, sous vide precision cookers ensure that your food will be cooked evenly from all sides.
2 – Tenderized meat to perfection
when barbecuing, the magic happens when you cook your meat slowly and evenly, at a low temperature. This allows connective tissues to break down which results in a more tender final product! Additionally, sous vide precision cooker retain moisture better than other methods. That way, your meat will also be juicier and more flavorful than when using other cooking methods.
3 – Hands-off cooking
Sous vide cooking is like a dream come true for those who love to cook and want an easy, fuss-free meal. You can set your temperature (and time!) then simply walk away while it cooks! This is ideal for busy cooks who want to prepare a meal without having to stand over the stove or grill.
4 – Retains nutrients
another great benefit of sous vide precision cookers is that they help retain nutrients in food. Because the food is cooked slowly and at a lower temperature, it doesn’t lose any of its nutrients to evaporation, like it would with other cooking methods.
5 – There is no better tool to render the fat
If you are a wagyu beef lover like me, you will find cooking sous vide essential to the cooking process! Sous vide is the BEST (and only) way to render the fat in the cognitive tissues of your wagyu cuts of meat by cooking it at a steady temperature over long periods of time.
Discovering cooking sous vide
Learning how to cook sous vide took me quite some time.
I first spent a lot of time reading about the process. I was surprised by how difficult it was to find more cookbooks on the subject. Most cookbooks about cooking sous vide proposed many ‘fancy’ recipes which taught me little to none about how to use sous vide. So, I turned to the net and found many interesting articles which allowed me to deepen my understanding of the sous vide process.
I first began experimenting on smaller cuts of beef (filet mignon, ribeye, etc.) over shorter periods of time (6 to 12 hours). I then started experimenting on roasts (tri-tip, brisket, etc.) over longer periods of time (12 to 48 hours).
At first, the way the meat looked right after the bath made me feel a bit discouraged. It looked like I dipped my expensive piece of Wagyu in a mud puddle overnight! But I knew the bath was only part of the process and I still had to sear my meat.
For the sear, I used a cast iron pan and then I began using my PK360 to get that woodsy finish I like so much. It took a little bit of practice to figure out how to get that perfect bark at the end. But once I got the hang of it, I was amazed by the results every time!
Sous vide did everything it promised to do! It tenderized the meat to perfection, rendered the fat over long period, and increased the natural flavor of the meat.
How to use your sous vide precision cooker to get the best barbecue?
STEP 1 – program your sous vide precision cooker
I recommend the following time and temperature when programming your sous vide precision cooker, for a MEDIUM-RARE result:
- Thin cut steaks: 129 degrees F for 4-6 hours;
- Thick cut steaks: 129 degrees F for 6-8 hours;
- Roasts: 129 degrees F for 12-24 hours.
You may want to adjust the target time and temperature to your taste:
- Rare: 120 to 125 degrees F
- Medium: 140 to 145 degrees F
STEP 2: prepare your meat
- Unwrap, rinse meat, and pat dry with a paper towel;
- On a cutting board, trim excess fat;
- Season the meat with your favorite seasoning. I personally recommend using a simple blend of salt and pepper (half-half ratio), herbs (thyme or rosemary), garlic (fresh or powder), butter.
Can I use sous vide for my wagyu beef?
Sous vide is the best method when cooking wagyu beef, in order to render the fat, because it uses a slow and low cooking temperature. This allows for the fat to be rendered evenly without losing any of the meat’s nutrients to evaporation. Additionally, sous vide precision cookers help retain nutrients in food overall, making it a healthier cooking method.
STEP 3: sous vide bag
- Place the seasoned meat and butter in the sealable bag.
- Seal the bag.
Can I sous vide with a regular ziplock bag?
Yes, you can use a Ziplock freezer bag to sous vide. That being said, make sure to get the bags that are labeled “freezer bags” and not just “storage bags.” The freezer bags are thicker and will hold up better to the heat of the water bath. To seal the bag, you can use the water displacement method.
To use the water displacement method, put the bag in a large container of water, and make sure that the meat is completely submerged. Slowly push all the air out of the bag until only the water is left. Once all the air is out, seal the bag and remove it from the water.
STEP 4: cooking steps
- Place the sealed bag in the bath and wait until fully cooked;
- When the targeted temperature is reached, take the meat out and place in an ice bag for about 20-30 minutes. After 20-30 minutes, take the bag out of the ice bath, open and remove the meat, and discard the bag;
- Pat the meat dry. This step is essential in order to get a good bark during the sear. It is optional but to get your meat dryer, you can also leave it in your fridge uncovered for 30 minutes to an hour following the ice bath;
- While the meat sits in the ice bath or dries up in the fridge, heat up your grill OR your cast iron skillet for a final sear. Let the temperature rise for 10-15 minutes before begin searing;
- Finally, brush your grill or the cast iron skillet with oil and sear your meat uninterrupted for 1 to 3 minutes on each side (or to taste). If you are using a coal or gas BBQ, sear the meat on direct flame. Keep the lid open if you like your meat more rare on the inside or close if you prefer it more medium.
Do I need an immersion circulator to sous vide?
An immersion circulator is a recipient that you can use to heat up and circulate the water. This circulated water bath cooks food more evenly and at a consistent temperature.
You do not need an immersion circulator to sous vide. Any pot large enough to hold the bag and still have room for the water to circulate will work with a sous vide precision cooker. That being said, it will make the process easier.
You can find immersion circulators online or in some kitchen stores.
STEP 5: finishing steps
- Remove your meat from the grill or skillet and place on a cutting board.
- Sprinkle or rub your meat with butter to taste. I recommend using black truffle butter, but any butter works.
- Because of the ice bath, you do not need to leave your meat covered with aluminum foil for 5-10 minutes before cutting – as recommended when cooking meat raw – but I still recommend to do so IF you dried up your meat in the fridge, as it will allows the internal temperature of your meat to rise, following the sear.
- Finally, sprinkle lightly with Guerande salt or other seasoning salt to taste.
How will sous vide help you improve your cooking?
There are many benefits you will get from this cooking method. But, to me, these are the main ones:
- First, the inside and outside of your meat will always get cooked to perfection without you having to spend every hour of your day sitting by your grill or smoker. You will not be able to accomplish such a feat without a sous vide precision cooker.
- Second, sous vide is the most effective way to tenderize your meat and to give it an incredible flavor, which no other cooking tool can give your meat.
- Last, there is no easier process than cooking sous vide. You are guaranteed to get your meat cooked to perfection by the time you want it done, no matter if you are planning a big barbecue party, a little treat during your weekend getaway, or a regular everyday meal.
Conclusion, is sous vide worth investing in a precision cooker and the commitment?
The answer to this question is based on whether or not you will take advantage of everything sous vide cooking has to offer.
To me, the answer is “without a doubt”! You can of course continue cooking great barbecue without it. Especially if you like the challenge of getting your meat cooked to perfection on the inside and out. Or the fun of having a beer while smoking a good brisket.
That being said, grills and sous vide precision cookers are not mutually exclusive. They complement each other quite well in order to give you the best out of your meat.
Something you will find particularly essential when cooking expensive cuts of beef, such as wagyu beef. As there is NO OTHER tool on the market that can render fat as a sous vide precision cooker.
But this method is not only a mean to improve your grill, it is also a very convenient cooking technique. After all, no matter how much you like to barbecue, who has the time to spend hours by the grill everyday? With sous vide, no need to wait for the weekend to barbecue restaurant quality meals. All you need to do is to prepare your meat before going to work, seal it in a vacuum bag, and cook until you get back from work. No risk to overcook it. And whenever you are ready for diner, sear it in less than 10 minutes, season it, and enjoy it! This process is particularly useful when cooking for family or friends. It will save you the stress of dealing with unexpected delays and spousal frustration 🙂